To capture the attention of the fidgety pre-schoolers; to lead them gently by their hand to the world of letters and make them take delight in the journey is no mean task. If you feel you could do with some inspiration, here are a few ideas to make your job a little easier:
1. Letter matching archaeology game
This archaeology game is a fun way to take the boredom out of learning the upper case and lower case letters. All you need are some magnetic alphabets, a baking tray, some flour and an old makeup brush.
Let the children pretend to be archaeologists out on an exciting excavation. Give them a paper sheet with uppercase and lower alphabets written on them. Go through the alphabets with them and tell them their mission is to uncover matching alphabets from the excavation site.
Now place the magnetic letters on the baking tray and cover the letters with a thick layer of flour. Hand the brush to the children and let them take turns to dust the flour off the alphabets, uncover the alphabets, identify them and match them with the letters on the paper.
2. Wordless Story Books
Wordless storybooks for a literacy activity! Not the most obvious of choices to help children befriend the letters, one would think. But, then again, literacy is not all about building skills to decipher letters. Wordless picture books are perfect for pre-emergent, emergent and early readers. They are ideal for challenging their imagination, making inferences and moving beyond the confines of literal text. These books can help children build their vocabulary, writing skills and higher-level thinking, says Kirsten, a teacher, librarian and the founder of the Children’s Library Lady.
And best of all, there are endless possibilities to add novelty and steer the story in a fresh new direction every time you read the books. You can let the little readers describe the setting and introduce characters and plot twists. Encourage them to draw speech bubbles on post-it notes and stick it to the book with comments on what the characters might be thinking or saying. And, remember to use the opportunity to make them consider their word choice and use transition words and adjectives – all, of course, depending on their age and ability.
Here are some of our favourite wordless storybook picks :
The Flower Man by Mark Ludy
Clown by Quentin Blake
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
Journey by Aaron Becker
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka
3. Race Car Word Erase
This literacy play idea from growing bookbybook is super simple and perfect for the little car enthusiasts. A few dry erase boards, car erasers, and some sharpies are all you need for this literacy activity.
Write a few words or letters at the top of the dry erase board and place the car-shaped eraser at the opposite end of the board. Call out a letter (or word). Let the children identify the letter and zoom their cars to the top of the board and wipe them out. Write a word or letter to replace the one that was erased and continue.
4. Spelling Spools
This creative spelling activity by Allison McDonald from notimeforflashcards is a lot of fun, and quite easy to put together. Gather a few empty ribbon spools, a dowel and a felt-tip pen. Write a set of random letters across the centre of each reel and string them all on the dowel to form spinners. Hand out the spinner, a piece of paper and pen to each child. Get them to spin the spools and make as many words as they can, and write them down on the paper. If you want to take the challenge up another notch, ask them to come up with as many countries, verbs, adjectives or cartoon characters as they can, from the spinner.
5. ABC Ice Cream
Here’s another letter game by Coffeecupsandcrayons that we absolutely loved and would highly recommend you to try out. All you need are a few plastic balls (for ice cream scoops) and paper-towel tubes (for the cones), and you can sneak in this activity into their favourite kitchen/restaurant-play sessions.
Write an upper case letter on each ball and the lower case letters on the tubes. Put all the balls into a bowl and place the tubes on a table in their pretend play area. Get the little chefs to identify a letter on each ball and match the letter with its corresponding lower case letter on the cone. Tell them to put the matching ball on the tube to make some yummy letter ice creams for you, as you sit at the table, waiting to be served.
This activity is perfect for their gross motor skills as well, as they’ll need to put their balancing skills to test to bring the jiggling ice cream cones across the room to you.
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